This post was sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club of America as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.
This year, Samantha’s 10th birthday coincided with the last day of school. We surprised her with a (refurbished) iPad and it was clear within a few hours that we would have to put some serious restrictions on her usage of the thing this summer. If it were up to her, girlfriend would be on musical.ly 24 hours a day until the bus comes back to drag her to fifth grade.
But this is not a blog post about the evils of screen time. Because, to be honest, I don’t think all screen time is evil. Ellie has been doing yoga almost daily lately, thanks to DVDs we picked up at the library. Yes, there’s a screen involved, but she’s up and moving her body in ways she might not have been.
While I don’t want my girls glued to glowing screens all day, I’m no fool. Technological savvy will be a major asset to them in the future. By 2018, jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are expected to grow almost twice as fast as jobs in other fields in the US. Plus, there are ways to have them use tech positively so that they’re learning without even realizing it. Samantha is obsessed with apps like Scratch and Hopscotch, which teach kids basic programming and coding skills. I like that they stimulate her and encourage her to continue learning—even while on summer vacation.
Boys & Girls Club of America, a leader in out-of-school learning for more than 150 years, has created a new platform called My.Future that kicks that stimulation up a notch. Using My.Future, kids and teens can explore topics that already interest them while picking up new and valuable STEM skills in the process.
Kids start with staff-facilitated projects that provide members of all ability levels with basic technology skills. They can learn to do things like build a blog, create time lapse video, write and record a rap song and much more. As kids complete projects, they can earn badges from staff members. My.Future also provides links to extensions, which are outside resources that kids can use to further their learning.
Samantha has been begging me to help her set up a blog of her own. While I have plenty of reservations about it, the My.Future Essentials page for building a blog is a great starting point to get kids thinking about all of the pieces to consider when starting a blog. Since I’m not sure how comfortable I am with her blogging, I may steer her to the creating a storyboard activities instead. There, she can learn how to create a visual narrative—which will come in handy for the movies she likes to make with her friends.
Whatever your kids’ interests, My.Future has found a way to effectively suck them in and teach them valuable life skills. Added bonus? They’re learning and having lots of fun. No summer slide or selfie obsession included. 😉